Seminaries in Ireland report highest intake for a decade
Bottom photo courtesy of Deacon's Diary blogspot.
Thirty-eight new seminarians will study for the priesthood in Ireland this September, the highest number since 46 priests enrolled in 1999.
It comes after a sharp decline in the country's economic fortunes following almost two decades of rapid growth. In the last 12 months the Irish Republic has suffered an 85 per cent rise in unemployment, the highest increase on the planet, and has gone from having the second lowest unemployment figures in western Europe to the second highest.
However, Fr Paddy Rushe, national co-odinator of vocations, said the increase in seminarian numbers had nothing to do with the recession as student priests had to enter a year ago, before the recession began to bite."
Most of these guys have been thinking about it for a long time, and we don't accept people at the last minute, so it's too early to tell how the recession will affect future numbers."
He said the increase was a credit to the work of the vocations team, the power of prayer and the Year of Vocation campaign.
"The Year of Vocation has given us a two-fold return, its been mentioned more than it has for years. There were banners, booklets, posters and ongoing events. And as the Church has dealt with the problems of the past, there has been an increase in confidence, now the intensity of the post-scandal and abuse era has faded."
Of the new candidates 26 will study at the national seminary at St Patrick's College in Maynooth, Co Kildare, seven at St Malachy's College in Belfast, and two at Beda College in Rome, while one will enter the pre-seminary discernment year in Valladolid, Spain. The new candidates range in age from 18 to their mid-40s, with the largest numbers coming from the Dublin and the Down and Connor dioceses. Maynooth will also be home to seven Scottish seminarians who have been transferred after the closure of Scotus College in Glasgow.